Modi’s Lumbini visit gets momentum

Modi's Lumbini visit gets momentum

KATHMANDU: Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s upcoming visit to Nepal’s Lumbini, the birthplace of Gautam Buddha, on the occasion of Buddha Purnima has gained momentum.

Modi, at the invitation of the UNESCO, is scheduled to visit Lumbini on May 16 to mark the 2566th birthday of Gautam Buddha. In 1997, Lumbini, one of the holiest places for Buddhists from all across the world, was declared as UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Currently, four helipads are under construction inside the Lumbini area, according to a report carried by Kantipur, the largest daily newspaper of Nepal. It is said that Modi will land in Lumbini from Kushinagar on board a helicopter.

Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba will also travel to Lumbini on May 16 and inaugurate the Gautam Buddha International Airport. After inaugurating the country’s second international airport, Deuba will welcome Modi.

The two leaders will offer prayers in the Maya Devi temple and will lay the foundation of a Buddhist Monastery to be financed by the government of India, the Kantipur report added. Through the International Buddhist Confederation which is under the aegis of the Ministry of Culture and Tourism, the government of India is spending over Rs 1 billion for the construction of the Monastery.

Modi will also visit the Ashoka Pillar and the Bodhi Vriksha – the tree under which Gautam Buddha is said to have attained enlightenment, according to media reports.

Deuba and Modi are also scheduled to hold talks and address a function in Lumbini where Buddhists followers across the world will take part. After completing his five-hour long engagements in Lumbini, Modi will return to New Delhi via Kushinagar.

After being elected as the Prime Minister for the first time in August 2014, Modi came to Nepal and announced visits to Lumbini, Janakpur and Muktinath. Although he visited the two Hindu pilgrimage sites of Muktinath and Janakpur, his plans to visit Lumbini were put off. Senior officials from Nepal and India are visiting Lumbini every day in order to take stock of the ground work as well as perpetrators of the high-level visit, security arrangements, logistics management among others.

This is the fifth visit of Modi to Nepal and the first after he was re-elected in 2019. In April, Nepal’s Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba visited India and met Modi besides signing some accords and agreements.

Also Read: India dismisses controversy over Buddha’s birthplace

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